Photo Credit: @Raptors on Twitter
To much of the fans’ liking, the Toronto Raptors dropped their fifth consecutive game and completed the “tank” as they’ve secured the seventh worst record in the NBA. Led by a team-high 24 from star Zach LaVine, the Bulls defeated the Raptors for the third time this season to keep their playoff hopes alive.
As a result of the loss, Toronto will be positioned in seventh for the 2021 NBA draft lottery and will have a 31.9% chance of earning a top-four pick. With their lottery spot decided for June 22nd, and their playoff aspirations already over, the Raptors will play their final two games for pride.
Despite a competitive first quarter where Chicago led by only three, the Bulls were able to take command over the game in the second, outscoring Toronto 36-20. Chicago’s bench play and three point shooting helped them maintain and grow their lead in the second half as they swept the Raptors on the season.
During a wacky game in the “windy city,” the Raptors played only eight players and were without their top six scorers. Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam were all out tonight while Chris Boucher and Gary Trent Jr. were available but did not play.
LaVine led the way with another efficient shooting night, while Coby White and Nikola Vucevic each recorded a double-double. White scored 17 points and had 10 assists, while Vucevic grabbed 16 rebounds to go along with 16 points. Lauri Markkanen’s 20 points and game-high six three pointers propelled Chicago’s bench as they outscored Toronto 38-20 on the night.
Without much of their top players, the Raptors were able to get a good look at Jalen Harris and Stanley Johnson who both had career nights. After a career-high 16 against Memphis on Saturday, Harris scored 17 points on 58% shooting. Johnson had a game-high 35 points after only 23 points in his past eight games combined. 24 of his 35 points tonight came in the second half as Johnson turned it on.
The Bulls have won four of their last five and remain alive in the East play-in picture. The only play-in pathway for Chicago requires them to win their final two games against the Nets and Bucks while hoping Washington loses their last two to the Cavs and Hornets.
The Raptors enter the final weekend of their “tumultuous” season with two meaningless games left to play. Toronto will travel to Dallas to play the Mavericks tomorrow night before ending the season in Tampa on Sunday against the Indiana Pacers.